There are many reasons to join your local celiac support group. You will have a chance to listen to experts in the field of celiac research and have access to valuable information. You will find out about gluten-free events in your area. Then there is the camaraderie of hanging out with people who, like you, are on a gluten-free diet. And the social aspect is undeniable. I’ve met many wonderful people at support group meetings. And possibly the most fun aspect of your local celiac support group?
Free gluten-free food!
My group, the Palm Beach County Celiac Support Group, just had their semi-annual gluten-free food giveaway. Our president, Phyllis, asks for donations from companies all over North America that produce gluten-free food. They send her things, and twice a year, she brings it in to the meeting and gives it away. I don’t know what she actually says to the companies, but they donate a lot of food. A LOT of food.
This year, according to Phyllis, she had 1000 lbs of gluten-free goodies. Half a ton! She had to hire a van and drivers to transport it from her home to the meeting place. A team of us spent over an hour getting everything onto tables. Since I volunteered to help with setup, I got to read all the labels before the crowds got there. I filled up my canvas tote only with things that I can eat, bypassing 95% of the offerings that contained soy, potato starch, tomato sauce, canola oil, coconut, natural flavorings, or anything else my digestive tract finds offensive. (Actually, I did pick up one Coconut Larabar sample for David.) I estimate the value of what I got was around $30.00, which is the cost of my annual membership.
The tables were groaning at the beginning of the night, and were empty by the end of the meeting. Everyone walked away with a big smile on their face and an even bigger bag of food in their hands. As you can see from the photo, General Mills was a big donor. We had 210 full size boxes of Gluten-Free Rice Chex, and I’m happy to say they all found good homes.
One thing to note: our president, Phyllis, doesn’t partake of any of the samples. She simply collects it all, brings it in, and distributes. But she declines to “preview” anything before the meeting. Amazingly, she’d rather let the members have all the goodies. And I, for one, say thank you, Phyllis!
For more information on the Palm Beach County Celiac Support group, click here.
For more information on the Celiac Disease Foundation support groups, click here.
For a list of Gluten Intolerance Groups, click here.
For the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, click here.
No support group in your area? Start your own! (See any of the above organizations for help.)